The switch to a cash-free payment collection system is turning into a potential moneymaker for county toll roads, in the form of a jump in the number of penalties from toll violations, according to the OC Register.
The transition from cash to cash-free toll road payments has been completely mismanaged by the Toll Road Corridor Agency (TCA) and their two Boards of Directors. This is another black eye in particular for Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency Board Chair Lisa Bartlett, who is running for the 5th District of the OC Board of Supervisors, and San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency Board Chairman Rush Hill.
Officials at other toll road agencies that made the switch from cash to electronic payment told TCA officials to expect problems after the end of cash tolling because many people will remain unaware of the change until it actually happens, said Lisa Telles, a TCA spokeswoman.
The new system also has sparked confusion for drivers and a customer service crisis at the Transportation Corridor Agencies, with tens of thousands of people calling help lines only to face long waits, and often no answer at all, according to documents presented at June 12 board meetings of TCA directors.
That confusion has led to a flood of calls to the TCA’s customer support center. Some 46,000 callers were unable to get through to a representative in the week starting June 4, compared with an average of 2,000 callers per week in May 2013, according to TCA statistics.
The TCA plans to hire more customer service representatives – but why is that? Why not just hire temps or even better contract this out to a private phone center? Why create more public jobs when the TCA has other options?
And if they knew this was going to be a train wreck, having been advised of that in advance by their peers in other agencies, why weren’t they ready for the onslaught of phone calls?
No matter how you slice it this has been a complete disaster and yet another example of the government’s inability to do what the private marketplace does.
The Foothill/Eastern toll road agency kept nearly $220,000 in contract approvals hidden from public scrutiny in the past year using a budget loophole that even its board members didn’t know about, records show, as we posted back in February.
That loophole allowed the agency to circumvent its own rules and approve or change major contracts with nothing more than the support of its chairwoman, Bartlett, and the signature of its chief executive officer.